Okay, so, Wonderbolt Academy.
In my opinion, this episode was entertaining in some ways, but also bothersome in others.
The Flash animation continues to envelope-pushing, and the visuals in this ep were absolutely eye-popping. The flight effects made the forced-3D of this 2D medium more vivid than ever. Also, the supporting cast was colourful and fun, and it was nice to revisit the Wonderbolts and Dash's ambition. Also "kicking tail" is now a canon expression, so there's that too.
HOWEVER, there were still some issues.
Spitfire continues to completely forget who Dash is, despite meeting her on numerous occasions across two seasons. In addition, she was pointlessly drill-sergeant-like for the sake of a "this is a drill sergeant schtick" scene or two. She has previously been presented as confident but laid-back -- more like a SPORTS star than a MILITARY figure. The Wonderbolts seem to be an aerial performance team and possibly disaster response unit, NOT a fighting force. I never saw any combat or weapons training. They don't kill for a living. So what's with all the "LEMME SEE YOUR WAR FACE! RAWWRGH!" stuff? There's only so far you can push the whole Top Gun thing before it damages the plot.
Pinkie was less a free-spirited Pony with her own unique perspective that provides uncanny insights as often as it clashes with others' reality... and more of a Warner Brothers cartoon. Considering the "Duck Season! Wabbit Season!" bit in Putting Your Hoof Down, I am starting to think this is an ongoing issue with Williams' characterization of Pinkie. She was funny, but every second of her zany schtick did nothing but eat up minutes that could have been spent following Dash's story with more depth. The gang could just as easily have visited Dash with the simplest of introductory comments in the balloon: "Dash will be so surprised when we come visit her! I hope her training is going well!" Pinkie is at her best when her antics MATTER somehow, not when she's a diversion from the episode.
Speaking of which... the ending was a dismal disappointment, mainly because THERE WASN'T ONE.
The episode essentially irised-out on a scene that REALLY needed some closure. Is Dash going to be a Wonderbolt now? Is she staying at the Academy? Is Lightning Dust? Is Dust expelled? Demoted? Vengeful? Heartbroken? Repentant? The ending smacked of non-story cartoon nega-continuity, where as of next episode the previous episode vanishes into the ether with the press of a massive Reset Button. With all of the continuity nods this season so far, this episode was a major step backward in storytelling. It's nice Dash showed that Loyalty to Principles can be as important as Loyalty to superiors, but it kinda would have been nice to get a little more detail about how her fondest and possibly ONLY goal in life played out, no?
I liked the concept of this episode, but the writing sadly left a lot to be desired.